tv [untitled] July 22, 2012 12:30am-1:00am PDT
faster system, which it claims it is trying to do. i understand but there were trying to do. there is no connection to the ticket. how was it transparent? that is not transparency. at least when you had a clipboard you could write down who was doing the work of getting the plan check, bringing the drawings in. in fire at least to have a connection to the permit. that is a tropical system. who is bringing it in and what work is being done? this system is not tractable. i usually work on tenant improvements downtown projects. primarily. i usually have to go to building, fire, puc, all kinds
of -- may be planning sometimes. i have one great comment about the u-ticket. once you get started, your time is what keeps you -- it takes you to the front of the line. once my ticket starts, then i am kicked to the front of the line whenever next station i have to go to. is that fair? i am not sure. what i " i did like is that the pay station, i was kicked to the very beginning. i like that part but there are 10 people in line waiting. the polite different ticket. is that inherently fair? i do not think so. >> thank you for your comment. >> oh, commissioners. i am an architect. i have been practicing here 26
years-plus. i have sat on various boards on the city. i'm all about time to my experience has been the first day with q-matic, one hour of permits, something that i could go through quickly, took me eight hours, literally. there were having problems with the system, etc. i can stand on the fifth floor and c five stations. i can see all of those stations from one vintage point. i could see who is there, who is not there, i could go to those stations, get something signed off while something -- those people are doing absolutely nothing. that is an efficient system. right now you can do that. it is in cereal, not parallel. if you take q-matic and make it a parallel system, where you can pull at any station at any time, order number is called up when they are not doing
anything, that is a positive system. i can get multiple things signed off while i am still waiting for a building, fire, or something else. i encourage you to make q-matic a parallel system or some other system that can function in multiple ways at the same time, as opposed to the serial way where you have to wait for another person to get kicked back. i have to wait for 10 people before i am seen. one morning i came in. i was the first person there. three people who poll numbers have an hour later -- i am still waiting. took me an hour-and-a-half before i was seen. it is not working. it is slowing down the process. it is slowing down the workers at dbi. a lot of money is being wasted.
i would encourage you to do something about this. >> good morning, commissioners. i am a permit expediter. i have been doing permits for 18 years. i may do several hundred a year. i met the building department every day. from what everyone has said, you can hear that no one likes the system. i do not know anybody who has been in that building that has said anything positive about it. it has been a month? no one has said anything positive. everyone is complaining. there is a reason for that. the system is way too inflexible and wait to linear -- too linear in a process that needs flexibility and needs not to be lanier. this system is just not working.
>> thank you for your comments. next speaker please. >> good morning, commissioners. henry. as you can see, a lot of people have spoken before you. not all permit expediters. they come from all different professions. engineers, plan checkers, developers, contractors, you name it, across the whole field. these are regular customers. time is money. that is what it comes down to. as you can see, it is taking longer, even for technical services, even if there is nobody there, you have to wait until your number is called. i saw somebody willing to pay for their permit, he went up to the counter and ask what is happening to my number? they said it was purged, it is not there anymore.
so he got another number and then was sent over to plan check rather than to pay for the permit. this goes on over and over. unfortunately, i do not think it is a system that is working. the clipboard did work. maybe we can get an ipad or something like that. i know the system cost a lot of money. maybe we could sell that on the day -- ebay. this is not a good thing for people on both sides of the counter. lastly, because people are being sent around up and down, they say, forget it, i would do it myself. this is enough for me. this is happening. we need to get some action done because this is not a good thing. sorry, but we thought it would
be great, we give this some time, but it has not worked. >> thank you. next speaker. >> good morning, commissioners. my name is john pollard. i operate a structural engineering company and a san francisco gracia company that does foundations and structural upgrade. on average, i spent two hours a day at dbi to pull permit for our structure promise -- projects. the reason i have an interest in running efficiently is i have over 100 employees. i am here to talk and why q- matic has failed the eye and the public it was meant to serve. to start from the beginning, there is a line every day in intake on the first floor to get a number. one number for submitting plans, one number for over-the- counter, one number for questions for planning, and then all the other members for other departments.
that is about nine different numbers. you need a preservation number. then you have the wrong number for planning, you are rerouted through the system. this takes roughly 45 minutes to get through every day just to get your first q-matic number. if you get the correct number, you are off and running to your next, much water with process at one of the other white stations. an example yesterday, at 9:30 in the morning, planning had 12 people waiting. each number eight -- each time a number was called out, none of the people waiting were called. the plan checkers could not help one individual person. i am assuming the applicant that had the numbers being called were on the fifth floor, in the restroom, or out feeding their meters. they were not one of the 12 was up -- of us waiting in line. once we are on the fifth floor, we are subjected to more than
double with times from a month ago since q-matic has been enacted. fire can take up to three hours just to get to their department where they say n/a, not applicable. a simple electric permit that we got on the third floor that use to take us 20 minutes, it took us 4.5 hours last week. the staff at dbi has become much more proficient in doing their jobs over the past five years. our complaint has nothing to do with staffing @ dbi but entirely with the q-matic system that is a complete boondoggle. to date i have never seen the planning department or dbi enact a change in permitting that had doubled the amount of time that it takes to get a permit, when there was already a system set up that all staff and both the department knew well, worked well, and that the public knew
well. as the saying goes, if it is not broke, do not fix it. i would come ask this commission to put q-matic on hold until the i am planning can confirm if q- matic will ever be applicable to this department. lastly, whenever you go to the dmv to get your license renewed, it is faster than you can get through q-matic, and something is seriously wrong. >> thank you. is there any more public comment? ok, thank you, everybody, for your comments. commissioners? commissioner walker. >> i really appreciate people coming in to talk about this. i know when we initiated this many years ago, several directors ago, had reasons for it, primarily, to provide consistency, deal with
accusations of favoritism, shopping for plan checkers, etc. i know as long as i have been on this commission, my goal is to create a department that provides excellent customer service to everybody walking in the door. everybody equally. it sounds like this program is problematic. one of the things that is going to be a problem that may not be insurmountable is if we cannot deal with this serial vs. parallel issue of thing going through the system. if we cannot do that, it will be difficult to make the kinds of changes.
i am not clear why it makes so much difference to have a sign- in sheet rather than being issued a number, except for that, that one is serial from station to station, whereas each station has a sign-in, as opposed to one signed in for the entire process. is that correct? >> yes, but first before information does not have a sign-in a clipboard, right away they get the information and then they go to planning on the first floor, planning on the fifth floor, and then the process right away. violation, sixth floor. now because of q-matic, first of
all, they do not give you a number, that is a violation. people need to go up and down because q-matic is not on all floors. only on two floors. the person running up and down to the fourth floor and sixth floor to create a violation and then they come back to create a number. after you finish that, they also need to go back to the system, to wherever they need to go. also, i wonder, starting june 11, i am the person that the board looks to to run the system. myself, running down from the first floor, fifth floor, everywhere, tried to make it work. and then we try to iron out most of the computer problems.
we have numerous communications with q-matic to try to solve the problems. we find out in the computer system, one hour, one minute, suddenly the number is gone. then we correct. we have people taking too many tickets. the plan checkered tries to call. nobody is there. the system does not allow you to jump to other people. otherwise, your supervisor will say, why did you do this? the system makes it very rigid. compared to before, we could watch all the people --
especially, homeowners and small contractors, more herding, sitting. >> were you finished, director? i did not want to interrupt. i had a couple of comments, and then i had some questions for staff. one of the things i am concerned about is, i took this seat on the commission as a representative of landlords. and i was not that involved in dbi, obviously not working in the contract thing, building profession. one of the questions i had when i got on the board is, what is
an expediter? as a landlord, i have hired architects, engineers, general contractors, other tradespeople. i had work done in my home in sonoma county, santa clara county, and san francisco. if you cannot pull the permit, you should not have a job. i expect them to be able to get it done. i expect my architect to be able to get plans approved. if there are problems with their drying, they better fix it. obviously, sometimes my ideas were not right and it is up to the professional to tell me he cannot draw it this way. i never understood what an expediter did. finally, some people started to explain it to me, who were on staff here. they said an expediter is basically a lobbyist. they know us, so it is their job to get this stuff done
faster, because they know us. there are two things mentioned, and this is why we put in q- matic. i understand people's frustration because we have to put in something. there are two things that we had to fix. if q-matic was not going to beat be fixed. one thing it is about favoritism for plan checkers. those are two things that this department was called out on by the grand jury in san francisco, staff people were moved because of those things, got in trouble because of those things. it is not just the professionals that come into office. staff also have to take responsibility, to. it was both sides. it takes two to play when something goes wrong. that was the whole reason for q-
matic. now, i am open fix, as long as we do not go back to -- and i am not saying that all of that favoritism, those other types of things, people coming in minline -- to the extent it s happening, i hope it doesn't happen at all, but i feel like it has not. we cannot go back to that way. i am kind of disappointed. my question to staff, i am disappointed if q-matic did not work. i believe every frustration that was pointed out, why didn't we get in there and called it out? staff's job is to get things to work and not just say we are going to throw it out. i do not know if q-matic is
bankrupt or not. but if we bought something, we have to hold the people that we bought it from accountable. going back to commissioner walker's point, why isn't there somebody at q-matic walking us through this? if there are glitches, they should fix it. if it is a technical fix, they should fix it. we did not get the right programming? why don't we work with them to get it done? we are doing the same thing with permit tracking. the people we brought -- but that system from have to walk through it before we launch it. even when we do, they are supposed to hang around and make sure it works right. otherwise, we should not have bought it. those are the two questions i have for staff. i feel disappointed in some of the things that staff said.
this is a bad thing. we should get rid of it. not after we spent all this time and money on it it of commissioner, deputy director, the person that proposed this, three directors ago. when he took over, you are right, it was the grand jury, the fbi, some bad things happening in the department. he proposed q-matic because it was a system. then he left. since he has left, we have opened up the fifth floor. when q-matic was proposed, fifth floor was part of planning. what we designed was a very large, open room.
[no audio] that system has only been in place for three years. q-matic was supposed to enhance this. q-matic was a system that was thought of when we did most of our plan checking. we took in most jobs. now we're doing most over-the- counter. the old system of the second floor and fifth floor, it was a very narrow counter, narrow seating space, you did not really have the visual experience that you do in dbi at present. one of the reasons it took so long to get q-matic was it was a
single source. i believe we had to go through -- for us to buy it with no competition, i seem to believe, that took a long time to get. that was the biggest problem, getting permission to buy the system. once we got the system, i think we put it in place pretty quick. however, we came up with a pretty different system. we had two floors that we could use, different space, and the system we came up with, i believe, was very transparent. if you are trying to jump the line at dbi now, you are walking up to the building inspector, fire inspector, somebody from dpw, but you have everybody watching the person. they know who is in front of them and they will get challenged. i think that is part of the problem.
q-matic seems to be a system with no built-in flexibility. it doesn't insure there is no shopping, and yes, it does ensure it is fair to all, but with the clipboard system, you have the same thing. that is how i see it. >> you know, my perspective is, i was a manager in the city for many years. i am totally sympathetic to the procurement issues of how long it takes to get a single source contract. i think, sometimes because of that, we get really invested in stuff. q-matic is 20-year-old technology. it is really unfortunate that here, next to the silicon valley, we are so invested in a system that is 20 years old technology. there are systems that are
vastly better available today. we are now sort of stock because we have spent so much money on it. i am sympathetic to the issues of cost. housing is very expensive in san francisco, and this is adding to the expense for renters and homeowners, and i do not like that one bit. throwing that money after worse is not a solution. i think that we need to put a time limit on this issue and move on it. decide whether we can fix it, as commissioner walker said, to come up with a parallel system, or put a time limit on a by which we are going to get rid of it. >> first of all, thank you for all of the commissioner meetings, commissioners to appoint me as the acting director.
you know, we are trying to work on this system. we paid $160,000, not including our manpower, all of those things into the system. right now, we have too many resources on the first and fifth floor, tried to make it work. to resolve commissioner mar's issue, i also monitor the fifth floor. i have a supervisor there to make sure that there are no problems. we would watch them to make sure it is right. then the q-matic does not allow us to help the smaller customers. they are always lost.
generally, when they first come they are very patient. for some reason, their number is gone. then they are waiting. multiple floors, two stations. i have a planning. they wait for two hours. they are not there. then you need to get a number, frustrated. right now, if there is a new system that can work better for our department, we can investigate it, but i hope we can put more resources toward resolving these issues and maybe
we can have somebody look around whether we can do a better system. right now, you asked the staff and customer, takes a long time. that is the worst part. besides the expediter, we're more worried about the small contract, homeowner to get their permits. they take off work, they expect one or two hours, but it turns into the whole day. i try to help them. sometimes i am running up and down two different floors. taking care of different problems. sometimes staff -- and everybody works to resolve it. we are not stopping the system right away. we want to see that we can table it and then do more work. >> could i clarify?
i am concerned q-matic is not here to help us with this. i really want to ask the question, if we can make this a parallel number system, rather than serial, and if we cannot, it will not work. if you have all of these positions they need to go into, they go into a list for all of them paid outhem. >> it is worse. i have to go to three different stations. >> we have determined from q- matic it is not possible to adjust our system? >> no, not in our case. >> first of all, most of the people that testified here are architects and contractors.
part of their service is getting the permit. that makes whoever they said down there and expediter. i have talked to them about oakland and san jose where they have the same system. from what they tell me, q-matic works on an express window. if your door to do windows, kitchen, bathroom, from what they tell me, it does not work for additions, tenant improvements, because you have multiple stations. for a tenant improvement or a commercial project, you can go to as many as eight or nine stations, and that is what is killing it. unless we don it down and say q- matic is only for residential small projects, but that defeats the purpose of transparency, openness, everything else we're trying to get. >> we could come up with another way to address that but it may be the solution.